Results tagged ‘ Twins ’

Grant Green starts at third, but just for one day …

Adam Eaton, Grant GreenGrant Green made his first start Major League start at third base on Wednesday, but no, he hasn’t supplanted David Freese as the everyday guy at the hot corner, and Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Green won’t necessarily be cutting into his playing time, either.

Green is starting simply because Freese’s left elbow is “a little sore” after a hit by pitch in Tuesday’s eighth inning, Scioscia said, adding that Freese will “still get the lion’s share of the third-base starts.”

“He’s hit the ball much better than some of his numbers show,” Scioscia said. “He’s hit a lot of hard outs. Really what David does is give you that great at-bat with guys in scoring position. We’re starting to see a little bit more of that. That being said, I don’t think he’s hit stride, or there’s a comfort level of what he did a couple years ago. That just hasn’t materialized. But he’s giving us good at-bats, and if he can get close to where we project him to be, he’s going to be a huge boost to the depth of our lineup.”

So far, that hasn’t happened.

Freese sports a .226/.305/.282 slash line overall and a .170/.270/.170 mark with runners in scoring position, and he’s basically been treading water recently, with a .256 average, 14 strikeouts and one walk in his last 11 games.

Green, meanwhile, enters hitting .333/.347/.435 in an interrupted 25-game stint in the big leagues, but is still getting acclimated to third base — one of five positions he currently plays.

The 26-year-old — a natural shortstop who’s most comfortable at second base, received the majority of his starts in left field earlier this season and has most recently been experimenting with first base — hadn’t spent much time at third base when the Angels acquired him from the A’s for Alberto Callaspo last July. But Green got some time there in the Minors down the stretch last year, spent a lot of time in the hot corner during Spring Training and played third in four of his last six Triple-A games.

“I felt good there when I first came up,” Green said. “When I first came up, I played a lot of third. When I went back down, I didn’t feel rusty. It was just getting back into it, getting back into taking grounders game-speed.”

Twins (36-39)

Danny Santana, SS
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Josh Willingham, LF
Kendrys Morales, DH
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Eric Fryer, C
Sam Fuld, CF

SP: RH Yohan Pino (0-0, 2.57 ERA)

Angels (42-33)

Kole Calhoun, RF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, LF
Erick Aybar, SS
Howie Kendrick, 2B
C.J. Cron, DH
Grant Green, 3B
Chris Iannetta, C

SP: RH Garrett Richards (7-2, 2.79 ERA)

Alden

Division-by-division: AL Central …

ALCS Tigers Red Sox Baseball

Leading up to Spring Training, I’ll take a look at each of the six divisions in hopes of providing an overview for what to expect this coming season. Next up, the AL Central.

Indians
Last year’s record: 92-70, 2nd place (lost to Rays in AL Wild Card game)
Key additions: OF David Murphy, RP John Axford, RP Josh Outman, 1B David Cooper, INF Elliot Johnson, OF Nyjer Morgan, RF Jeff Francoeur, C Matt Treanor, SP Shaun Marcum
Key subtractions: SP Ubaldo Jimenez, SP Scott Kazmir, OF Drew Stubbs, CL Chris Perez, OF Jason Kubel, RP Matt Albers, RP Rich Hill, RP Joe Smith, C Kelly Shoppach
Biggest strength: Offense. The Indians ranked sixth in the Majors in runs scored last year, despite down years from Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn and Asdrubal Cabrera, and have replaced the strikeout-prone Drew Stubbs with righty masher David Murphy.
Biggest question: Pitching, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Kazmir signed with the A’s and it doesn’t look like Jimenez is coming back, so it’ll be up to young guys like Danny Salazar, Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Carlos Carrasco to fill the void as starters. The bullpen no longer has Perez, Hill and Smith, so the likes of Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and Vinnie Pestano have to step up.
Most important player: Salazar. The 24-year-old right-hander has the makings of a front-of-the-rotation starter and needs to emerge as one for the Indians to take the next step.
In 25 words or less: The Indians let a lot of veteran pitchers go, and now their playoff fate will rest on an assortment of young, albeit-talented arms.

Royals
Last year’s record: 86-76, 3rd place
Key additions: SP Jason Vargas, OF Norichika Aoki, 2B Omar Infante, INF Danny Valencia, SP Brad Penny, RP Jon Rauch, OF Carlos Peguero,
Key subtractions: SP Ervin Santana, 1B Carlos Pena, INF Miguel Tejada, INF/OF Emilio Bonifacio, RP Will Smith
Biggest strength: Relief pitching. Greg Holland was one of baseball’s best closers last year, with Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Tim Collins and Aaron Crow helping to make up arguably the game’s best bullpen.
Biggest question: Youth in the starting lineup. If the Royals are going to make the playoffs for the first time since winning it all in 1985, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Lorenzo Cain will have to finally come into their own.
Most important player: Danny Duffy. The 25-year-old lefty missed almost 14 months due to Tommy John surgery, then posted a 1.85 ERA in five starts down the stretch. He still has upside, and could provide a huge boost to the rotation if he takes a step forward.
In 25 words or less: Aoki, Infante and Vargas could very well be the moves that push the Royals over the top and end a brutal, 28-year playoff drought.

Tigers
Last year’s record: 93-69, 1st place (lost to Red Sox in ALCS)
Key additions: MGR Brad Ausmus, CL Joe Nathan, 2B Ian Kinsler, OF Rajai Davis, INF Steve Lombardozzi, RP Joba Chamberlain, RP Ian Krol
Key subtractions: MGR Jim Leyland, SP Doug Fister, 1B Prince Fielder, SS Jhonny Peralta, 2B Omar Infante, INF Ramon Santiago, C Brayan Pena, RP Joaquin Benoit, RP Jeremy Bonderman, RP Octavio Dotel, RP Jose Veras
Biggest strength: Starting pitching. Even without Fister, the Tigers’ staff looks like the best in baseball, with the reigning Cy Young Award winner (Max Scherzer), a former MVP (Justin Verlander) and the guy with the lowest ERA in 2013 (Anibal Sanchez). And don’t forget about ground ball machine Rick Porcello pitching with a better defense behind him.
Biggest question: Ausmus, because it’s always tough for a rookie manager to take on a veteran team with World Series expectations, especially while filling the shoes of a legend (though Mike Matheny seemed to do OK). Everything else about this club is solid.
Most important player: Victor Martinez. With Fielder in Texas, it’ll probably be his job to protect Miguel Cabrera as the new cleanup hitter and get pitchers to throw the two-time MVP a strike every once in a while.
In 25 words or less: The defense is a lot better with Cabrera at first and the ninth is finally locked up with Nathan. If healthy, they’ll contend once again.

Twins
Last year’s record: 66-96, 4th place
Key additions: SP Ricky Nolasco, SP Phil Hughes, OF Jason Kubel, C Kurt Suzuki, SS Jason Bartlett, RP Matt Guerrier
Key subtractions: C/OF Ryan Doumit, SP Liam Hendriks
Biggest strength: Their farm system. Keith Law ranked them second, behind only the Astros, while center fielder Byron Buxton (first) and third baseman Miguel Sano (third) rank among MLB.com’s top three prospects.
Biggest question: Starting pitching. The Twins had by far the worst rotation in the Majors last year, with a 30th-ranked 5.26 ERA, then spent a combined $84 million to bring in Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes and resign Mike Pelfrey. They’ll be better, but they’ll still be bad.
Most important player: Joe Mauer, of course. He’s signed through 2018 and is making the transition from catcher to first base in hopes of staying as healthy as possible during that time. How will he handle it defensively, and will he produce the power numbers required for that position? These are crucial questions for the Twins’ future.
In 25 words or less: They’ll take their lumps again this season, but the rotation will be better (how can it be worse?) and some very talented prospects arrive soon.

White Sox
Last year’s record: 63-99, 5th place
Key additions: CF Adam Eaton, 1B Jose Abreu, 3B Matt Davidson, SP Felipe Paulino, RP Ronald Belisario, RP Scott Downs
Key subtractions: SP Gavin Floyd, CL Addison Reed, OF Brandon Jacobs, SP/RP Hector Santiago, SP Dylan Axelrod
Biggest strength: The front of the rotation. Chris Sale is up there among the best pitchers in the game, and 25-year-old Jose Quintana (3.51 ERA in 33 starts last year) has emerged as a solid No. 2.
Biggest question: The lineup. It could be solid; it could also be very bad. Eaton, Abreu, Davidson, Dayan Viciedo, Avisail Garcia, Alejandro De Aza, Adam Dunn, Gordon Beckham, Tyler Flowers and Alexei Ramirez all bring varying degrees of questions.
Most important player: Abreu. He was given the largest ever contract for an international free agent ($68 million over six years) and has supplanted Paul Konerko as the everyday first baseman. Now we’ll see how the Cuban slugger’s power translates to the States.
In 25 words or less: The White Sox can’t contend this year, but GM Rick Hahn is doing a nice job rebuilding in hopes of getting them there soon.

Predicted order of finish …

  • Tigers
  • Royals
  • Indians
  • White Sox
  • Twins

Previous entries: NL East | AL East | NL Central

Alden

The nine stats that plagued the ’13 Angels …

Mike Scioscia, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton

There are pretty numbers, like .323, .432 and .557 — that’s Mike Trout‘s 2013 batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, respectively.

And then there are ugly ones, like the ones below — the nine stats that plagued the Angels in 2013 and, ultimately, may cost Trout another AL MVP Award …

(In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the Angels’ 2013 season and a look at what’s ahead.)

150: That’s the amount of double plays the Angels grounded into. It’s a franchise record, two more than the 1996 team, and third in the Majors. Albert Pujols (in only 99 games) and Mark Trumbo tied for the team lead with 18, while Howie Kendrick (a notorious GIDP’er) and Josh Hamilton each had 16. Speedster (and non-walker) Erick Aybar followed with 14.

26: That’s the number of pitchers the Angels used this season, three shy of the club record set in 1999. In April alone — a month when the bullpen compiled 95 innings, fifth-most in the Majors — they used 18 (!). It’s a sign of the lack of quality pitching depth the Angels had beyond the Opening Day roster, but also of the injuries they faced, like …

18: That’s the amount of starts Jered Weaver and Jason Vargas missed due to fluky injuries. Weaver fell at the Rangers Ballpark mound on April 7, suffered a fractured left elbow and didn’t return until May 29. Vargas was diagnosed with a blood clot in his left arm pit area shortly after his June 17 start, had invasive surgery and didn’t return until Aug. 13. Down the stretch, the Angels started to see what kind of continuity they can get from Weaver and Vargas being productive and in the rotation at the same time. But it was too little, too late.

13: That’s the combined appearances made by the two new relievers, Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson. Burnett made all of them — 11 in April, a couple in late May — before getting shut down with a torn flexor tendon. Madson missed a second straight year after Tommy John surgery and was released on Aug. 5. Together, Burnett and Madson were supposed to make the Angels’ bullpen a strength. Together, they came up with 13.

32: That’s the combined amount of April losses for two star-studded teams in back-to-back years. In 2012, the Angels started 6-14, roared back into relevance shortly after Trout’s callup and faded down the stretch. In 2013, they dropped 17 of 26 in the season’s first month and never even got back to .500. The Angels had a great Spring Training in 2012, a not-so-great one in 2013. Why the bad early starts — in addition to perhaps a flawed club — is hard to put your finger on.

-63: That’s the amount of runs the Angels didn’t save on defense. In other words, it was their DRS score — 27th in the Majors. And it’s pretty inexplicable considering their DRS was plus-58, tied for second in the Majors, just last season. Yeah, Pujols played only 99 games and Alberto Callaspo  was traded in late July, but the personnel was basically the same. And definitely not enough for a 121-run difference (!). Everyday players Trout (-9), Hamilton (-8), Chris Iannetta (-7) Aybar (-7), Kendrick (-3), J.B. Shuck (-1) and Trumbo (-1) had negative scores. The Angels were 19th in UZR, tied for 27th in fielding percentage and 28th in caught-stealing percentage. So, yeah, it’s not just that one sabermetric stat. The Angels were not a very good defensive team this season.

2.6: That’s the combined Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs.com, for Pujols and Hamilton. That’s actually higher than I expected, but obviously nowhere near what the Angels hoped for. In other words, two guys making a combined $33.4 million (or nearly 25 percent of the entire payroll) contributed three wins, if you round up. Pujols didn’t play past July 26, was severely hobbled when he did, and finished with a .258/.330/.437 slash line. Hamilton slumped up until the final five weeks of the season and finished at .250/.307/.432. You can talk about the pitching problems all you want — and I agree, it was the No. 1 issue in 2013 and is the No. 1 concern right now — but perhaps the Angels make a playoff run if they get normal years from Pujols and Hamilton.

66: That’s the amount of outs the Angels made on the bases, more than anyone in baseball — for a second straight year. Last season, they led with 72 outs on the bases. Kendrick (10), Aybar (7), Shuck (7) and Hank Conger (6) had the most.

22: I saved this one for last because I thought it was the most telling. It’s the amount of losses the Angels suffered in games during which they scored at least five runs. That’s the second-most in the Majors in 2013. The only team that lost more of those games was the Astros — the 111-loss Astros. Team Nos. 3-10: Twins, White Sox, Brewers, Orioles, Blue Jays, D-backs, Padres, Rockies. None of them made the playoffs, and the vast majority of them were never close. Nothing says pitching problems like losing a game in which you get five or more runs from your offense — 22 times.

Alden

Weaver scratched for Friday start vs. M’s …

Angels starter Jered Weaver has been scratched from his Friday start, with Matt Shoemaker taking his place in the rotation.

The move was announced Thursday, during the Angels’ off-day, and no reason was given as to why the ace right-hander won’t be starting the series opener against the Mariners.

Weaver did experience some tightness in his right forearm during a start in Minnesota on Sept. 9, but he took his next turn against the Astros on Saturday and pitched six innings of two-run ball. The Angels could be opting to simply give Weaver some extra rest with the season winding down and the team out of the playoff race, as manager Mike Scioscia has hinted at in the past.

Jerome Williams and C.J. Wilson will start Saturday and Sunday, as previously scheduled, but the starters for the early part of next week have not yet been announced. Interestingly, the Angels opted to start Shoemaker instead of Tommy Hanson, who was recalled from Triple-A early this week, or Joe Blanton, who has been in the bullpen since late July.

Shoemaker’s start will mark his Major League debut. The 26-year-old right-hander went 11-13 with a 4.64 ERA in 29 starts for Triple-A Salt Lake this year. Weaver is 10.8 with a 3.36 ERA in 23 starts. The 30-year-old has a 3.23 ERA since returning from a broken left elbow on May 29.

Alden

Hamilton battling inflammation …

Josh Hamilton’s sore right ankle kept him out of the lineup for a second straight day on Tuesday and a follow-up MRI revealed that the Angels outfielder has some inflammation that could keep him out for one or two more games.

Hamilton doesn’t believe he’ll be out any longer than that, though.

“I don’t have any concern,” he said when asked if this could be a long-term injury. “Usually you know when something is wrong, and I don’t have any inclination that it is. It should be good in a couple of days.”

Hamilton, who says he mysteriously hurt the ankle when he got out of bed on Monday morning, will see an orthopedist later on Tuesday and may receive a shot to let the swelling go down.

Hamilton, batting .223 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs, has started 87 of the Angels’ 98 games, also missing time due to minor injuries in his right wrist and lower back, plus a bout with sinus congestion.

“He is feeling a little better than he did yesterday,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Hamilton’s ankle, “so hopefully it’ll be day to day.”

Twins (42-54)

Brian Dozier, 2B
Jamey Carroll, 3B
Joe Mauer, C (SCRATCHED)
Justin Morneau, 1B
Ryan Doumit, RF
Chris Colabello, DH
Chris Herrmann, C
Clete Thomas, LF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Pedro Florimon, SS

SP: RH Kyle Gibson (2-2, 6.45 ERA)

Angels (46-51)

J.B. Shuck, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Alberto Callaspo, 3B
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Hank Conger, C
Collin Cowgill, RF
Erick Aybar, SS

SP: RH Tommy Hanson (4-2, 5.10 ERA)

Alden

93 down, 69 left — & lots of ground to make up …

Mike Scioscia, Mike TroutThe good news for the Angels is that they expect to get a handful of key players back shortly after the All-Star break, including Peter Bourjos, Tommy Hanson and Jason Vargas; perhaps even Sean Burnett and Ryan Madson.

But, as Mike Scioscia intimated, that’s not really anything they can hang their hat on right now.

“I don’t think our struggles correlate to guys being out,” he said during Thursday’s voluntary workout. “It’s not like saying, ‘Well, we’ve been banged up and now we’re going to be healthy.’ … We need guys to get in their game more than getting back from the DL.”

There’s no sugarcoating where the Angels find themselves right now. They’re 44-49, 11 games back of first place in the AL West and nine games back of the second Wild Card spot. It’s the most games under .500 that the Angels have been at the All-Star break since 1994 and the largest divisional deficit since 2001. They didn’t make the playoffs either of those years, and only one team — the 2003 Twins — has done so after entering the All-Star break five or more games under .500.

To win 93 games — the minimum amount required to make the playoffs in the AL last year — they’ll have to go 49-20. That’s .710 baseball. The best winning percentage in the Majors right now is .613 (by the Cardinals).

But nearly 43 percent of season remains, so hope does, too.

And with the All-Star break finished, here are the main storylines from here ’til the offseason (click here for my first-half story, with video of the Top 5 moments) …

The July 31 crossroads.

As of now, the best bet here is that the Angels don’t do anything major before the non-waiver Trade Deadline. They’re too dangerously close to the threshold at which teams get taxed 17.5 percent by Major League Baseball — something the Angels’ brass doesn’t seem willing to take on — and it’s hard to really be sellers, per se, when Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton are on your payroll. But these next couple of weeks could have a big impact on this topic, which brings me to the next storyline …

The next 20 games.

Thirteen of them are against the A’s and Rangers, two teams that are a combined 30 games over .500 and two teams ahead of the Angels in the AL West. This is a stretch that can have them looking towards 2014 or maybe — just maybe — eyeing a playoff spot this fall. In total, 26 of the Angels’ 69 remaining games will come against Oakland and Texas. That’s a lot. Almost 40 percent.

Pujols and The Foot.

At what point does Pujols finally relent and have surgery on the plantar fasciitis that’s been ailing his left foot — and his entire game — all season? He’s determined to play through it all year, and if the Angels stay somewhat relevant, I have every reason to believe he will. If they fall out of it, though, perhaps he shuts it down. Still, 500 homers is only 10 away. And Pujols is adamant about not missing time.

Hamilton and The Numbers.

He hasn’t hit any better than .237 in any month this season, and he has a .224/.283/.413 line for the season. His OPS (.696) is tied for 122nd in the Majors, with Brian Dozier, and his FanGraphs-calculated WAR (0.8) is fourth among Angels position players. To finish with 30 homers, he needs to average a home run every 4.3 games (assuming he doesn’t miss any time). He was able to do that in 2012 (3.4) and 2010 (4.2). To reach triple-digit RBIs, he needs to drive in a run every 1.13 games. The closest he got to that rate was last year, at 1.16. If Hamilton averages four at-bats per game the rest of the way — it’ll likely be lower than that, given walks and inevitable time off — that totals 276. If he gets 110 hits in that span, that’s a .399 batting average. And that would put his average on the season at .302. Amazing to think he even has a remote chance to get to 300-30-100.

Trout’s MVP chances.

Chris Davis (.315/.392/.717) and Miguel Cabrera (.365/.458/.674) are having absurd seasons, making Mike Trout only a fringe candidate for the AL MVP. But don’t sleep on him. He’s at .322/.399/.565 through 92 games. Through 92 games last year (a year he should’ve been the MVP), he was at .340/.402/.592. Not too far off. And if Davis and Cabrera slip, Trout may find himself in the conversation once again. (Sidenote: Trout’s strikeout and walk rates have actually improved from last year, a sign he’s only improving as a hitter. He struck out 21.8 percent of the time and walked 10.5 percent of the time last year. This year, he’s striking out 16.4 percent of the time and walking 11 percent of the time.)

Jered Weaver’s stock.

Somewhat lost amid the struggles of Pujols and Hamilton is that Weaver hasn’t really been, well, Weaver. He missed more than seven weeks with a broken left elbow, struggled upon coming back, went on a very good three-start stretch — two runs in 20 2/3 innings — and then gave up four runs in 5 2/3 innings to the Mariners to close out the ceremonial first half. He’s now 3-5 with a 3.63 ERA in 11 starts this season, with a fastball velocity that continues to decline (90.1 in 2010, 89.2 in 2011, 88.0 in 2012, 86.8 in 2013). Weaver will make $54 million from 2014-16, and the Angels don’t figure to get a better starting pitcher during that time. A strong second half would ease a lot of concerns.

Advanced planning?

If the Angels do fall out of it, it’ll be interesting to see how they look ahead to 2014 and beyond. This is not a roster you can really rebuild with. This is a roster you can only continue to add pieces to in hopes of winning a championship. And if the Angels don’t make the playoffs, I expect them to try to contend again in 2014. But come August and September, if they’re far back, how do they start planning for next year? Does Garrett Richards go back to the rotation (perhaps bumping Joe Blanton or Tommy Hanson)? Does Hank Conger become the everyday catcher? (Since June 12, he’s had the exact amount of games — 17 — and at-bats — 47 — as Chris Iannetta.)

And what’s the fallout from owner Arte Moreno for missing the playoffs a fourth consecutive year, and after back-to-back December blockbusters?

We may have to wait until the offseason for that one.

Alden

Game 15: Angels-Twins …

UPDATE, 6:55 P.M. CT: So much for that. Game has been postponed …

——-

Lo and behold, they might actually get this game in! Forecasts previously called for a 100-percent chance — yes, 100 percent — of precipitation. But as of 5:45 p.m. CT, nothing had come down — though it’s awfully cold — and now they’re saying the Angels and Twins may be able to get this game in. Five innings, at least.

Angels (4-10)

angelslogo2J.B. Shuck, LF
Mike Trout, CF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, RF
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Chris Iannetta, C
Brendan Harris, SS
Luis Jimenez, 3B

SP: RH Tommy Hanson (1-1, 6.55 ERA)

Twins (6-7)

MIN3Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, DH
Josh Willingham, LF
Justin Morneau, 1B
Ryan Doumit, C
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Pedro Florimon, SS

SP: RH Vance Worley (0-2, 10.50 ERA)

  • Kevin Jepsen‘s MRI revealed the right-hander has a strained lat. He’ll be shut down for a week, then will be evaluated. The timeline on this type of injury is pretty scattered. It could be two weeks, it could be 10. He’ll have to complete all the hurdles individually — range of motion, activating the arm, throwing bullpens, etc.
  • Mike Scioscia, on choosing Shuck over Peter Bourjos at the leadoff spot for the second time this season: “There’s some matchup things. Peter’s going to play a lot, but especially right now, looking for a leadoff, I think J.B. has a history of some on-base and can match up and give us a look on a given day. But I think we’re going to try to keep as much continuity as we can, but I think it’s a good day for J.B. to get in there and get some things going early in the game.”
  • Outfielder Scott Cousins, designated for assignment over the weekend, has cleared waivers and been reassigned to Triple-A Salt Lake.
  • Baseball Prospectus had an interesting article today, clocking Pujols home to first. Basically, he’s running slower than ever. He was at 5.11 seconds on the final out of last night’s game, and was between 4.5 and 4.7 seconds just two years earlier. Here’s what Scioscia said when asked if Pujols can regain his normal gait: “It’s definitely something we’re shooting for. But 38-degree weather and the grind of a season doesn’t mesh right now for where he needs to be. Some things he’s managed throughout his career, he’s managed to rebound and move better at times. But right now, he’s giving us 100 percent of what he has.”

Alden

Game 14: Angels-Twins …

Another nice day at Target Field. It isn’t expected to be tomorrow, with 100 percent chance of rain — that’s right, 100 percent! — at night. But hey, one day at a time, right? …

Angels (4-9)

CALPeter Bourjos, CF
Mike Trout, LF
Albert Pujols, DH
Josh Hamilton, RF
Mark Trumbo, 1B
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Chris Iannetta, C
Luis Jimenez, 3B
Andrew Romine, SS

SP: LH Jason Vargas (0-1, 4.76 ERA)

Twins (5-7)

MIN2Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Ryan Doumit, DH
Chris Parmelee, RF
Wilkin Ramirez, LF
Aaron Hicks, CF
Pedro Florimon, SS

SP: RH Mike Pelfrey (1-1, 7.36 ERA)

  • Big step for Ryan Madson today, who threw his third bullpen session with one day in between for the third time and said it’s the “closest I’ve felt to normal.” He’ll face hitters for the first time on Friday, then should go out on a rehab assignment shortly thereafter. He doesn’t see a reason why he wouldn’t be activated off the DL before the end of April. This is the shot in the arm the Angels’ bullpen badly needs.
  • Upon being activated, Mike Scioscia said he’d probably ease Madson in for a few outings, before potentially making him the closer. Madson doesn’t care either way. “Ernie [Frieri] is throwing the ball really well,” he said.
  • Pelfrey, 29, had Tommy John surgery on May 1, basically three weeks after Madson, and is making his third start of the season. Surgery is always a mixed bag, though.
  • Kevin Jepsen‘s MRI on Monday came back normal, but he’s undergoing some follow-ups on Tuesday.
  • Alberto Callaspo didn’t end up fielding grounders on Monday, but he’s doing so on Tuesday.

Alden

Albert Pujols, and the DH …

Albert PujolsAlbert Pujols (.289/.431/.511) looks fine at the plate, but he still isn’t moving around that well. His surgically repaired right knee, coupled with the plantar fasciitis that has crept up once again, have limited his mobility, to the point where he isn’t covering much ground at first base and is picking his spots to run full speed on the bases.

Clearly, he isn’t himself, giving Mike Scioscia the daily dilemma of whether or not to start him at first base.

Scioscia’s logic so far has been simple:If Pujols feels up for playing first base on a given day, he’ll do so.

“We’re going to take opportunities to get him further along,” Scioscia said, “but when he feels good, he feels up to playing first base, we’re a better team with him at first base, so you want him out there as much as you can.”

Are they a better defensive team with a hobbled Pujols, rather than a healthy Mark Trumbo? That’s debatable.

Since the opening series under National League rules in Cincinnati, Pujols has split his time, starting five games at designated hitter and five games at first base.

Why not put him exclusively at DH until he fully heals?

“If that was something that we felt was going to move him forward with this, we would do it, but nobody feels that’s the course of action,” Scioscia said. “I think whether he’s DH’ing or whether he’s at first, there’s still a level of wear and tear that’s going to be on your body, unless you take 15 days off, which he doesn’t need.”

Alden

Game 13: Angels-Twins …

Happy Jackie Robinson Day from the Twin Cities, where it’s 38 degrees with a 16-mph gust at Target Field. Here are the lineups, with the Angels coming off back-to-back victories and the Twins (coming off a canceled game) trying to snap a five-game losing streak …

Angels (4-8)

laaPeter Bourjos, CF
Mike Trout, LF
Albert Pujols, 1B
Josh Hamilton, RF
Mark Trumbo, DH
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Chris Iannetta, C
Brendan Harris, SS
Luis Jimenez, 3B

SP: RH Joe Blanton (0-2, 9.00 ERA)

Twins (4-7)

MINDarin Mastroianni, CF
Joe Mauer, C
Justin Morneau, 1B
Ryan Doumit, DH
Chris Parmelee, 1B
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Oswaldo Arcia, LF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Pedro Florimon, SS

SP: RH Kevin Correia (0-1, 3.14 ERA)

  • Here’s the gist of where we’re at weather-wise: They’ll probably be fine on Monday and Tuesday, but there’s a very good chance that it won’t be playable on Wednesday and it doesn’t look very good on Thursday (both teams’ off day). The Angels aren’t slated to return to Minnesota this year.
  • Kevin Jepsen (right triceps) and Erick Aybar (left heel) are not with the team on this trip. Jepsen is getting a baseline test, while Aybar is rehabbing in Arizona.
  • The Angels aren’t putting Alberto Callaspo on the DL just yet. He’s taking groundballs and swinging the bat to see if he can avoid it. But Angels manager Mike Scioscia basically said he won’t play in any of these three games.
  • Jered Weaver probably won’t be activating his arm in this series. Not smart to do it when it’s so cold out, and no need to rush.

Alden

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